Hey! I'm Emily... homebody, amateur philosopher, professional photographer, mama and wife. This is my little world-- a place for me to preserve the little snippets of my life that bring me joy, make me think, or show my creative leanings. I'm so happy you're here. If you get a minute, please introduce yourself in the comments. If you like what you see, you are invited to follow my blog through your RSS Reader. Just click the link at the bottom of the page to add me.
Thank you for being part of my little world... :)

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Tuesday, February 26

Twenty Things



Twenty Things:

1. I have not blogged specifically because I've put all this pressure on myself to get Quinn's birth story written and the photos edited from that day in the hospital so THAT can be my next post. Just edited the last photo. have not written the tale. Hence--- no blog post. Why do I set these limits on myself?

2. I am the WORST typist. GEEZ. Especially as I try to crank out Twenty Things with a sleeping baby in the sling, so my left arm is extra wonky... These typos get a simmering pool of self-rage started. I know it's boring to admit this, but if I could have any superpower in the world, it would be to type with perfect accuracy all the time. BO-RING. 

3. I just backed up all my current iPhone photos. I've had this iPhone for about 90 days. I am too embarrassed to confess how many photos I just backed up. This device has enabled my already obsessive memory-keeping to ramp up to addictive proportions. Intervention, maybe?

4. I bought my very first pair of yoga pants the week before Quinn arrived, for hospital and post-partum comfort. WHY HAVE I NOT OWNED THESE PANTS SOONER?! Confession: With them being snug up top and loose at the bottom, and a nice new unfaded shade of black, I totally feel more "dressed up"/stylish in these pants than probably any of my other pairs of pants right now. Weird? Yeah, I know. It's a testament to just how low my personal style situation has gotten. 

5. Quinn is, thus far, our best sleeper yet. I honestly don't even feel sleep deprivation at this time. With the AWFUL sleep I was getting that last several weeks of pregnancy, I'm no worse for the wear with this newborn than I was then. My stamina is built up, maybe. Quinn will nap from 7pm-10pm with a sleepy feeding in there, and will then sleep for the night from 10:30pmish until FOUR AM sometimes. 3:30am other times. Every once in a while he'll mess with us and wake at 1 or 2... but by and large his big sleep is 10:30-3:30 or 4. AMAZING. I'm sure I just jinxed it. After that 4:00am waking/feeding, he'll then eat/sleep simultaneously the rest of the night on my chest as I sleep-feed him reclined on our comfy couch from 4am-7:30am. I seriously am getting really good sleep. Weird. 

6. I printed those New Mama Affirmations from last week. Printed them out at 8x10 mounted on mat board. I'm going to use command strips to hang them on our still-unpainted/but stripped dining room wall. I spend most of my time in this room, so they'll get seen and absorbed better in here. 

7. Quinn is now 5 weeks old. We've been getting into a pretty good rhythm around here. In fact, the hardest thing these days isn't him, it's that the necessary rhythm is chafing me a bit--- I'm getting restless and bored. And being restless leads me to think too much about what I wish I could be doing or accomplishing. When I've been trying to remind myself to sit in the stillness and the routine-ness and be at peace... that this is a rare and short time when all that is required of me is to hold this baby and care for my other kiddos from home. Nothing extra. 

8. Things we can't live without around here in New Baby Land:
* sound machines
* slings/wraps: the Moby, the mei tai, the pouch sling
* swaddle blankets, including the Miracle Blanket and the Woombie
* Pampers Swaddlers newborn-sized diapers.  These SMELL like new baby to me. 
* the boppy
* remote-control doors on our new old minivan
* each other-- Joe and I. We HAVE to work together consistently to survive this. He's amazing at it. 

9. So far, the worst part of my day would have to be when I've not managed to eat breakfast and we're doing the morning hustle, just the kids and I. Getting Lucy and Noah in shoes and jackets, Quinn buckled into the carseat, managing keys and the pumpkin seat AND Lucy's hand since she still can't manage stairs or the rocky path walk without stumbling a bit... All while Quinn is beginning an epic wail session.... All while it begins to set in that I've not eaten and I'm getting a bit "hangry".... N.O.T. G.O.O.D. 

10. And the best part of my day? Would have to be those few moments I manage to do something with all three of the kids that previously failed spectacularly or is something I expect to fail spectacularly, and we somehow manage to rock it. I.e. we make the whole drive to Noah's school without a peep from Quinn. Or we manage to run into the grocery store and get a few things bought and back out to the car with no meltdowns. Or every kid is eating and happy and I am somehow eating a meal myself. Anytime I'm managing to "succeed" at this new life (and these are usually in small time increments... 15 minutes tops), it's a good moment. The best, actually. 

11. Or the other best part of my day is getting to watch any one of my kids sleep for a little bit with no interruption... Or when I get to hug one of them with BOTH arms for as long as I (they) want. 

12. We're in limbo in our home this season. Don't think I've mentioned that here.... Though it's been a niggling little worry in the back of my head for several months now. Our dear friend Kate who owns the house is planning to put this house on the market this spring. It may sell. May not. Meanwhile, we might have an opportunity to move to Joe's parents' house in the summer. Or we may not. If Kate's house doesn't sell but the other house opens up, we have a decision to make there. Or if Kate's house DOES sell and the other house is NOT available... that's a big one, too. Bottom line: WE HAVE NO CLUE. I confess as we look at the possibility of having to move, after three years pushing against this house being "ours"-- not embracing it as fully as we should have-- I am really REALLY sad about leaving. And hoping we don't have to. Not yet. Not yet. But if we DO have to move, two things:
A. I know it'll be a good shake-up for us. New places bring new energy and new creativity and necessary and goodly "stuff"-purging.
B. Wherever we go, I will NOT put off "making it our own" like I did with this one. What a waste of time that could've been spent energizing our space with US. 

13. I put mascara on every day. And pencil in my scant eyebrows. I may not manage a daily shower (SO impossible these days!)... but it's a quirk of mine that I MUST get those two makeup things done in the morning. They help me feel like "me" and like I can face the day. 

14. Pop culture we're indulging in this season: 

(me)-Bachelor, Biggest Loser, Vampire Diaries, Candy Crush Saga, Dr. Phil, Let's Make a Deal, Facebook, Instagram, Downton Abbey, Castle. 

(Noah)- Transformers (classic), Transformers RescueBots, emoji note-typing on my old iTouch, Minecraft, Jetpack Joyride, Calvin & Hobbes. 

(Lucy)- Yo Gabba Gabba, Sesame Street. 

(Joe)- Avengers Alliance, Facebook, Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes, Arsenal and MLS soccer, Minecraft, Ghostbusters game, Dr. Who, The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret. 

15. I am having visceral, gut-tingling anticipation for Spring this year. I want to plant zinnias and marigolds, splurge on too many geraniums... give Noah a garden patch of his own this year. I want to go on long walks with Quinn and Lucy while Noah is in school. I want to sit on the back steps in bare feet while Lucy and Noah run around the back yard. I want to walk alongside Noah as he rides his training-wheeled bike to the playground. I want to get to the Botanical Gardens' Children's Garden when it opens back up. I want to see tulips and daffodils and lilacs and forsythias. I need this.

16. I have my first session back in the saddle this weekend. (Hi, Julie! sometimes I think my Quinn looks like he should be named "Max". Weird?) I am starting back slowly--- only two full-sized sessions a month for the spring, with a wait-and-see approach to the summer's session count. I am excited to shoot again, but equally excited to not have my usual workload. 

17. Lucy's 2nd birthday is creeping up on me and I am shocked and surprised every time I really think on it. I want to have a small party for her. Crazy? Yeah. But worth it. I love my girl. I love spring. I want to celebrate her. Thinking I'll do a quick, simple "rainbow" birthday party theme. 

18. Raise your hand if you have spices in your spice rack/cabinet that were supposed to be "best by" 2005 or so? *sheepishly raising hand* I gotta think that's actually rather common with spices. Yeah? No? I was purging/sorting our spice cabinet today (don't ask... it was one of those "seize the moments when it happens" moments and it feels AMAZING to have done it.) and it was scandalous how many spices I'd kept since our early marriage. No master chefs here, clearly. 

19. If/when I get to sit back down at my sewing table, these are my next projects, in order:
A. "creeper" tshirt for Noah, inspired by my friend Bettina, who made one for her son. 
B. quick and painless oilcloth trash bucket for our minivan
C. QUINN'S QUILT. It's not a hard design. I could probably start and finish it in 3 hours total. I just have to DO IT. 

20. I am feeling a pull to get in better touch with my spirit and feeding my soul. I need to pray more. Read more scripture. Apply spiritual principles to my daily grind more. I need to give over my burdens to my Savior more. I need to let go and love more. I'm going to tie a scrap of fabric on my wrist tonight and let that remind me for the next week or two to stop and say a quick prayer, say a few sincere thank yous... and remember to care for my soul a few more times a day. Maybe by the time the fabric is frayed and dingy, I'll be better at doing this and less in need of that visual reminder. 

*

Twenty things. Not related, nothing too deep or pressing... But there it is. and now I have blogged. Next up, a birth story. And some Quinn photos. I DID take newborn photos of him, I swear it.

Monday, February 11

New Mama Affirmations

This early stretch of having a new baby is TOUGH. 
I feel like last time, with colicky Lucy, it all took me by horrible surprise. I was so ready to have her, so excited to be a mama again, I simply wasn't prepared for the challenge of taking care of a new little being 110% of the time.  I didn't remember how much even the best babies need their parents' hands and attention and energy. Therefore, I feel like the transition was extremely hard, emotionally. I literally grieved for a time.


This time it's.......






Still hard. Heh.

But.
 I feel like I didn't come into this one unprepared. I don't feel blindsided this time. And because of that, I could tell by my first few days home with Quinn that I was gonna need some pep talks. Some reminders to myself that not only was the hard stuff going to only last a (relatively) short time, but that all of the work and stress would be worth it. And that even in the middle, there would be pockets of beauty.

I knew that even if my wise inner voice remembered these truths, my over-emotional outer self would need frequent reminding. So I took time one evening to ponder the advice I wanted to give myself, and ended up with a short list of "affirmations", or mantras. Quick reminders I could whisper to myself in the thick of it to talk myself down from the ledge. 

I tell you what--- there are definitely still several moments where even these don't cut through the anxiety or frustration of new parenting... but there are also several times I've actually made it through more intact and more positive because one of these affirmations calmed me down.

So in the plentiful moments I'm sitting and nursing the bebe, I designed and cobbled together some of my digital scrap supplies and favorite fonts and made them into "posters". I think I'll print them as 8x10s and get them up on my dining room wall ASAP (it's the hub of our home, the Command Center, if you will. They'll definitely get seen daily here.) 

And my thought is, perhaps someone out there will benefit from one or two of these affirmations.  So if you like some of these, click on them and you can download the web-sized version to put on your own blog or Pinterest or Facebook or whatever. It never hurts to put more positive energy out into the world! 

So here, my quick little "posters", along with a quick explanation why I need that specific phrase these days:

1.

  photo wcherishnewborns_zpsfdafea1b.jpg 

 "There is nothing quite like a newborn."-- I wrote this one first. Because above anything else, I spend my days holding this little one. Holding him to nurse, holding him to soothe him... holding him to get him deeper asleep. And I know, I KNOW that the time they are this small is so brief, and that a tiny little new baby is so amazing... So many of us would love nothing more than to get an hour to snuggle a new baby. Even if the last thing you want is a baby of your own. Most of us would love to HOLD one. So I remind myself of this every day. That he won't be this tiny for long, and he is rare and special and this is a gift--- a treat. A blessing. When else in my life do I have permission to let the dishes and laundry wait and just hold the baby a bit more? I'm working on remembering to cherish it.

2.

  photo wgoodmoment_zpsd79f7124.jpg 

Close behind that first one, this one plays in my head a lot. "There will be another good moment soon." Luckily, though Quinn has proven to be a bit intense like his siblings, he has also proven to be pretty predictable. We can get him happy pretty quickly. Because of this, when we're in the thick of one of his crying jags, I remind myself constantly that sooner than later we'll have some good moments again. Baby will be sleeping so we can admire his sweet face again... or he'll be calm and eating and we can relax and enjoy the antics of our other two kids for a little while... Or one of us will take over so the other one can get a hot shower or a meal or a nap--- a priceless break. Good moments are abundant--- we just have to wade through the rough spots to get to them. But they DO come. 

3.

  photo wseizethemoment_zps9ecda352.jpg 

Oh this one is quickly becoming a favorite: I am finding that when Quinn gives us a longer nap than expected, it's amazing how much I can get done. And I DO. I am seizing those moments and putting a load of laundry in, or letting Noah help me make cookies, or grabbing a quick nap of my own.... Even decluttering little corners of my house that have begun to drive me NUTS since I'm home 95% of the time and looking at that crap all day long. I tell you--- seizing the moments when they happen has been SO good for my soul. 

And then that second part--- even more important than the first. If I'd had something planned and the baby decides to cry and stay awake instead, I am getting better at LETTING IT GO. And then referring back to Affirmation #2. ("There will be another good moment soon.") Because there WILL be. 

4.

  photo wletgocontrol_zpsd0f6943e.jpg 

Oh boy. "Let go the illusion of control." Really. It's just going to be easier if I stop thinking I'm in charge here. Let go, let go, let go. It will be okay. This is hard for me. But I mutter it to myself often and hope it sinks in someday.

5.

  photo wkeepgoing_zps51f7c923.jpg

And yes...nothing deep or wise here... but sometime we just need to be our own cheerleader. I need to tell myself: "KEEP GOING. This is going to get better. At times it's already awesome. And YOU CAN DO THIS. You ARE doing it. Daily. Some days better than others... but you are doing it. Kids are all getting fed and hugged. That's enough."

*

So there they are. My lifelines, reminders to myself to find the good in each day, in between the rough transitions and newness and uncertainty of it all. It not only gets easier, we get stronger, and it gets more "normal", and one day we'll realize we've not needed the pep talks for weeks now.

Til then, you'll find me in my dining room, swaddling and shushing the crying baby with a not-quite-2-year-old clamoring to get on my lap too, the 5-year-old asking me to play Transformers with him for the 13th time, and I'll be staring like crazy at those 5 posters, finding some kind of ZEN in them..... Or at least the promise of zen-to-come. There will be another good moment soon.

Saturday, February 9

Surviving the First Three Weeks

We did it! One full week without the help of Grandma (we miss you, grandma Vicki!!!) and with Joe back at work.... And we are all still alive!!! 

I know-- I sound a little frenzied and crazy-eyes.... But I'm telling you-- Three kids, two under 2, is HARD. And I could tell before the other grownups had to leave me that this would be tricky. How to get three little people dressed and still manage to put some kind of real clothes on my own person? How to stay cool when the newborn is screaming like a velociraptor every time we get in the car? (And believe you me-- if I could avoid the car, I WOULD. But Noah has preschool every day, so that's twice a day my little velociraptor has to be subjected to the carseat. Sorry, Veloci-Quinn.)

And how to feed the troops when inevitably one arm is holding the baby? 

Well, I tell you what we did on one of our first days alone together:

 photo mcD_zps7ce72741.jpg 
Oh yeah. Thank you McD's. One happy meal for the Noah-kid. A Diet Coke and some cookies for me (but I was otherwise good and ate leftover chicken pot pie... Thanks, Lauren for making such a yummy dinner for us!). And graham crackers and strawberries for Lucy. She may have also had cheese. I don't remember. She seemed fed by the end. (Also, nice photobomb, Lucy. Top right.)

Yeah--- that one day we caved and did McDonald's... That was a good day. Because this was me for most of lunch:

  photo mcD2_zps38a20d9f.jpg 

And making lunch while the bebe is feeding is a bit tricky. I'm not saying it can't be done. I'm only saying I'm still new at this and the mom-of-three muscles are not really developed yet. I'm sure by week 6 I'll be sling-nursing the bebe like a champ and making quiches at the same time. With souffles for dessert. (I dunno-- I just always think "quiche" and "souffle" sound fancy and complicated. They might not be. I've never made them. check back on Week 6. Just kidding. I'm not gonna be making quiches and souffles anytime soon.)

So yes. Surviving this thing. Often with good moods to go along. Sometimes not. Here  are some of the ways we're doing this thing:

 photo mcD3_zps6a1e27e8.jpg  
Clockwise from top left: 
1. lots of swaddling. The kid loves swaddles. (Also it seems my whole life is full of bold patterns. I'm noticing this a LOT with these iPhone photos of life recently. Stripes. Florals. Damasks. Colors. Crazy.)
2. The end table next to where I nurse bebe. Full of crap Lucy brings me, supplies I need close at hand, tv remotes to keep older kids entertained... These piles add up and I try to tackle them throughout the day when I can. 
3. Slingin'. This here is the pouch sling. Preferred choice for Joe, too, who has discovered slingin' this time around and may just be a full convert. 
4. And yes, crying. Honestly, it's unavoidable this time around. Sometimes I just have to put him down and let him cry so I can change Lucy's diaper... Drive to preschool. Comb my own hair. Talk to Noah about something important. I have to be okay with this. Quinn is clearly NOT okay with this. I mean, that face can get RED. *cue velociraptor cry*
5. and 8. NAPTIME. Oh goodness, I cherish Quiet Time 'round my house. Both older kids are down and out from 2-4:30ish, and Quinn usually sleeps at this time, too... so Mama sleeps. This past week I managed to take my own nap three out of the five days. Hallelujah!!
6. Swaddle/Sway/Side-Position: Thank you, Happiest Baby on the Block--- you have served us through three kids now. And you speak truth. Here, Quinn is engaging in three of the 5 "S's" of calming a newborn.  He's swaddled. He's on his side with my hand on his tummy (he LOVES this position). And I'm swaying/jiggling him as I walk around. And voila-- he is sleeping. Thank you, Quinn. 
7. Slingin' it, pt. 2: this is the Moby, and he is REALLY loving this one. I could not survive having three kids without slings/wraps. Sure, if Quinn were super mellow and happy to be laid down in a bouncy seat for long periods of time... but he ain't that baby. Sad to say. He is proving to be as intense as his siblings, and seems to want to be right next to me all the time (I mean, really.... who WOULDN'T? Kidding. I don't shower much these days. The appeal is minimal.)

And along with all that-- the slinging, the napping, the swaddling, the enduring the rough parts, we are also surviving because of meals from friends and loved ones--- THANK YOU!!!!

And I am surviving because of a tireless husband who is back at work full time, back in classes full time, yet comes home to dive into being a daddy full time without complaint. He let me be psycho when I can't hold it in anymore, and he offers to make me food so that I'll actually EAT (Yeah, I'm finding that managing meals for myself has been tricky).... And he keeps holding and bouncing and shushing Quinn when he is crying AGAIN...  

So that's it. We're here. We're doing okay. We love the baby. We love each other. And we're working on those parents-of-three muscles. I gotta think that in another 3-6 weeks, we'll be amazed to see how more more adept we've gotten at this. 

We might even be making quiches by then. But don't hold your breath for a souffle.